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Roenick: NHL contraction “would be better for the game”

Nov 30, 2012, 5:28 PM EDT

Shane Doan Getty Images

Forbes released their latest valuations of each NHL franchise and it reinforced what is already common knowledge: the gap between rich and poor teams in the NHL is huge.

It’s a central area of concern for the NHL, especially seeing as the salary cap and floor forces every team to stay relatively close when it comes to player salaries.

The question is how should the NHL fix that, and Jeremy Roenick thinks part of the answer might be contraction, according to the Courier-Post.

“There are 30 teams and there are some places that can’t hold teams,” Roenick said. “That kind of weakens the economy of the whole National Hockey League. Maybe diluting a couple of the teams and diluting a little of the talent would make it an even stronger league.”

Roenick isn’t alone in his beliefs. University of North Texas economist Todd Jewell expressed the same sentiment in a recent Globe and Mail report.

“You’ve got to get rid of some of these teams with so little public support that can’t exist without subsidies from the rest of the league,” said Jewell. “I just don’t think the National Hockey League can survive with as many teams as it has in the southern states.”

Of course, a player would look at the elimination of a team and likely see it as the elimination of jobs. Roenick realizes that and knows the union would never agree to a solution that resorted to contraction.

“It’s easy for me to say as a star player,” Roenick said. “That would never happen, but it would be better for the game.”

  1. williplett - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    Blame the players for not wanting contraction. It has never been seriously considered by the owners and it was not the players decision to expand the NHL into non-traditional markets…but blame them anyway.

    Yikes.

    Stories like this are why a bunch of people around here who make less than $75k call themselves “pro-owner”. It was Gary Bettman and the owners who decided to put two teams in Florida, to give a franchise to Atlanta after the Flames left, to move a Canadian team to Arizona and to put an expansion franchise in Columbus, Ohio.

    • east96st - Nov 30, 2012 at 7:37 PM

      williplett – You dead wrong about Columbus. In the beginning, CBJ had huge fan support and sold a ton of PSLs. Here’s what happened in Columbus:

      1) McConnell signed an arena deal as bad as the Islanders had. What a shock that getting NO revenue from home games besides ticket sales AND paying rent turned out to be bad economics. Who could have seen that coming, right? The Jackets are NOW publicly subsidized by the casino revenue that was supposed to go back to the taxpayers, so we all get to pay for McConnell’s idiotic decision.

      2) Watch a Jackets game and look at their draft picks. It speaks for itself. How long is a fan base supposed to ignore gross incompetence?

      3) It’s not Jackets fans fault that Mike Priest has overseen the worse run and least fan friendly front office in the NHL. Season ticket holders can’t get calls back from their designated sales rep. You want to buy more tickets? You practically have to beg for the privilege. From the worse team in the League. A chimp could do a better job.

      No exaggeration – my 12 year old son has more business sense than these a**holes. It’s been over a decade of pissing on us and telling us it’s raining. You get the NHL to sell the Jackets to a COMPETENT ownership group (I was hoping John Davidson was heading up such a group when the JD rumors started), you clear out that entire front office, and Nationwide will be jammed with fans. The Jackets are appreciated and wanted here. It’s ownership and management that drives us away. Remember this is the group that spent a small fortune on creating a new mascot and decided to have a guy in a blow up cannon suit. Check out this link and let me know what you think it looks like.

      Here’s a hint – when it, literally, shot white T-shirts out of it’s top into the crowd, there wasn’t a dry eye in Nationwide. I don’t remember ever seeing an entire arena crying from laughing so hard before. Only the Jackets, my friend. Only the Jackets.

      • zetaone - Nov 30, 2012 at 9:58 PM

        No mention of Scott Howson? The best GM in the history of the NHL? (lol)

      • williplett - Dec 6, 2012 at 6:29 AM

        Will the Jackets be there in 2022? Who knows? 2017? Maybe? Weak yes?

  2. joeyashwi - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    Well said williplett. The first sign the NHL was going to shoot itself in the foot was allowing the North Stars move from Minnesota and become the Dallas Stars. Relocations and new franchises in southern states was the owners and commissioner’s great idea to soak up those one time expansion fees. Players had ZERO to do with it.

    • williplett - Nov 30, 2012 at 7:15 PM

      http://prohockeytalk.nbcsports.com/2012/11/27/stars-jackets-among-major-league-teams-with-worst-attendance-drops/

      The Stars made that list of worst attendance decline over the last ten years just a few days ago. They went through bankruptcy and were sold to the only bidder in 2011. During the 2007 All-Star game and festivities the place looked like a ghost town. The franchise bled money after they stopped making the playoffs. The novelty is gone and so are the fans. Will they even stay in Dallas?

      As a Minnesota North Stars fan growing up all I can say is…Norm Green sucks.

  3. capesouth - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:43 PM

    Couldn’t agree more. Some of these teams need to be removed. The danger is continuing to grow into markets that aren’t sustainable. Once there is a team there (which is the leagues fault for expanding there), of course the players are going to reject any effort to remove that team and lose jobs. The solution is to not expand there in the first place. Anybody with half a brain knew teams in Columbus, Dallas, Phoenix, Atlanta, etc were all going to struggle. Move a team back to Quebec and then get rid of these other teams in terrible markets. Quality over quantity. Better for the league financially and better for the product.

  4. quizguy66 - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    University of North Texas is a noted hockey power.

    -QG

  5. flyeredup - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:58 PM

    Jeremy Roenick is a loser. A no Cup loudmouth.

    • chrisvegas - Nov 30, 2012 at 7:39 PM

      Most Flyers the last 30 years have no cup, does that mean we haven’t had some great players? Roenick was a great player and is a great personality.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Nov 30, 2012 at 8:49 PM

      You’re a no-Cup loudmouth.

  6. bruinpred - Nov 30, 2012 at 7:22 PM

    Columbus sold PSLs and for a time had a strong season ticket group. It has a beautiful arena. It was terribly mismanaged, beginning with Doug MacLean, driving the fans away. If you had management like the Preds,, combined with the Columbus fan base and facility you would now be looking at a strong franchise. As for Atlanta, it seems to be a bad hockey town but the Thrashers were poorly managed so who really knows. Too bad we can’t all have fans like the lemmings in Toronto.

  7. chrisvegas - Nov 30, 2012 at 7:37 PM

    I’ve been saying that for years. Why have teams in cities that can’t afford them. It doesn’t make sense.

  8. General Lee 1175 - Nov 30, 2012 at 8:30 PM

    im all for removing florida phoenix, and columbus , but nashville , carolina and dallas have to stay

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Nov 30, 2012 at 8:50 PM

      I’m all for taking Gettysburg.

      • zetaone - Nov 30, 2012 at 10:09 PM

        Or The Dukes of Hazzard.

  9. phillyphanatic77 - Nov 30, 2012 at 8:37 PM

    People will say that the union will never allow contraction because it eliminates precious roster spots, but I don’t think Gary Bettman will consider it either. Those struggling sun belt teams were his brainchild, and despite their obvious lack of revenue and fan support when has Bettman ever attempted to rectify his mistakes? Let alone admit them. Just look at the current lockout for example … after the last CBA negotiation Bettman told us the salary cap was the solution to ALL the NHLs problems. But costs weren’t reduced like they expected, player salaries skyrocketed from those teams circumventing their own system, and the wealth disparity gap among teams grew exponentially. And instead of looking at real solutions (contraction, relocation, revenue sharing, or a soft salary cap) during these current negotiations, Bettman has stuck to his usual strategy: blame the players. The league will never contract because that would mean the infallible commissioner made a mistake.

  10. innout10 - Nov 30, 2012 at 9:40 PM

    Once Jamison closes the coyotes sale, which after more than 3 years finally has a January 2013 end in sight…. The coyotes will have the ability to be successful. The amount season tix jumped last year was amazing and with a good owner they will be just fine

  11. jaybird22seven - Nov 30, 2012 at 9:44 PM

    Start by getting rid of Pheonix, Islanders, Panthers.

  12. Jeff - Nov 30, 2012 at 9:47 PM

    Fewer teams means fewer players and less revenue. Yeah I’m sure the owners and the players would agree to that.

  13. id4joey - Nov 30, 2012 at 10:40 PM

    It’s certainly the players fault that the season has yet to start, and it’s the GMs fault that the system was circumvented, and the owners fault for approving the front loaded contracts, which is giving an edge to the wealthier teams.

    GMs have to win, and to do so they need to be convincing when seeking the owner’s approval for spending the big bucks on front loaded contracts. Ex: Parise, Sutter, Weber, Luongo, Hossa etc… The owners will fire Bettman when they’ll no longer be satisfied with his work. BTW, not only do the owners want to eliminate these front loaded contracts ( back diving) in the new CBA, they want the new terms to be retroactive to existing back-diving contracts.

    • woodstakes - Dec 1, 2012 at 1:03 AM

      Sometimes you say things man and i’m not sure if your sarcastic or just trying to look stupid… You say the lockout is the players fault… First off the players can’t start a LOCKOUT! Secondly you say the owners want to stop these front loaded (back diving; needed to be iterated I guess because we’re all to stupid to know what front loaded means), so in saying that your saying the owners don’t want to honor the contracts that are currently signed then, right? Signed by players from the GM’s of their teams, therefore it’s no different than if the owner walked right in and laid it out on the desk and said “Sign here!”… so it’s the players fault that they want to have their legally negotiated contracts honored?? Yup that’s ALL the players doing! What the hell are they thinking… wanting to get paid what was promised to them. (Dripping with sarcasm in CASE you missed it!)

      • id4joey - Dec 1, 2012 at 8:00 AM

        Relax young man. No need to get personal. Yes! It is the owners who locked out the players, but it continues to this day because the players refuse to sign a new CBA. In case you missed it, all players will get paid what they were promised. What are you talking about? (wanting to get paid what was promised to them) You may know what front loaded means, but you’re obviously misinformed.

      • manchestermiracle - Dec 1, 2012 at 10:46 AM

        joey:

        “The NHLPA’s latest offer would have given the league and players a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues, plus an additional $393 million to the players over four years in recognition of the contracts already signed.

        “The NHL rejected that offer and there have been no major negotiations since. It appears that in addition to the financial issues, the two sides are divided when it comes to contract rights.”

        So, no, the owners do NOT want to honor contracts they signed. That alone makes them the bad guys here. “(Y)ou’re obviously misinformed.” The league is attempting to beat the union down into irrelevance on virtually every issue. Getting the union to agree to any plan that would allow the league to dishonor recently signed contracts would set a very bad precedent for salary negotiations in the future.

        What the league really wants is a players’ union in name only in order to retain their anti-trust exemption, while dictating every aspect of business. Thinking the players should cave to that agenda is short-sighted and somewhat selfish.

      • woodstakes - Dec 1, 2012 at 1:32 PM

        How am I misinformed? Your contract says.. “You will be paid $X amount of dollars over X amount of years.” thats a ‘promise to pay’. PERIOD. It doesn’t say “You will be paid $X amount of dollars over X amount of years, except if we decide we don’t want to pay you that.” Do you have any idea of what a contract is? Or why contracts exist?? They are there to protect the worker and the company/employer. The point is to have it put down all nice like in writing so there is no dispute on salary. The owners don’t want to just limit these front loaded contracts they want to go back and say that all these contracts prior to this CBA that is being negotiated now to be reworked as well. THAT is NOT HONORING a contract or NOT getting paid what was promised to them.

    • williplett - Dec 6, 2012 at 6:37 AM

      “It’s certainly the players fault that the season has yet to start”=fail.

      This was plain foolish, Joeyido69. Plain foolish.

  14. jmbates10 - Nov 30, 2012 at 10:44 PM

    What should happen is not so much as get rid of teams but move them……to Quebec, new arena and rabid fan base. Another team in suburban Toronto, perhaps Saskatoon. This way you get player support and additional revenue from Canadian markets.

  15. dprouse - Dec 1, 2012 at 7:37 AM

    It’s easy to talk contraction from the sidelines, but what owner wants to give up his asset for nothing, and just walk away? No way – they’ll sell to an owner in a prospective expansion city first. The NHL doesn’t want that, as expansion money is coveted by owners. For them, it’s like finding $20 in a suit you haven’t worn in a while. Now you are asking them to dig into their pockets, probably to the tune of $20 million each, to contract a bunch of teams. Good luck with that.

    Fun fact – the last major league professional sports franchise to simply fold was the Cleveland Barons. That was now 34 years ago.

  16. acieu - Dec 1, 2012 at 7:44 AM

    Jeremy is right. Move franchises to Seattle, Quebec City GTA, and Portland and put two or three more out of their misery and get on with it.

  17. boiler72 - Dec 1, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    As a Nordiques fan since the 80’s – yes … get the Nords back to Quebec.

  18. id4joey - Dec 1, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    manchester, of course a split of HRR is a known fact that it implies a variable. That’s a no brainer, and the players already agreed to give in on HRR. What they don’t want is the contract structures to change, in other words they don’t want front loaded ones to be restructured. The amount is subject to the variable, Have you seen the structure of Luong’s contract? Ugly! They want to go back and change the structure, not the amount. Extend UFA by one year and limit contract lengths to 5 years. These are the core issues. The union wants a guarantee that the players share of 50/50 will not be below a certain threshold. How stupid is that? They believe its ok that their share is increased if HRR goes up, but want their share not to go below a set to a amount in case HRR goes down. Is this a good business model for any business?

    • woodstakes - Dec 1, 2012 at 1:45 PM

      It doesn’t matter what was done in the last CBA on contracts. Those contracts were entered into during that CBA and followed the rules given in said CBA. The owners want it both ways… they want to limit these contracts in future (which I agree with them) but in turn they then want to go back and change something that they feel in some way they were taken advantage of. You can’t do it both ways. They offered these contracts… they agreed to these contracts.. now they should have to pay these contracts. Do whatever you want/can in the next CBA. But, you can’t just have a lockout every 7 years and treat as a ‘do over’ and try to go back and correct bad business decisions. That’s not a very good ‘model for any business’ now either is it? The 1%’ers and they’re ideas that they are somehow more entitled to things then everyone else. They make bad business choices and instead of just moving on and making adjustments in the next CBA to prevent this from happening they have to try to make up for it to by trying to get the players to make yet another concession. The owners have not made one single concession in this whole dispute. Everything that has happened is to better the owners situation… the players are getting absolutely nothing better from they’re point of view. Its all take and no give.

  19. ironmike778 - Dec 1, 2012 at 11:48 AM

    We’ve known this for 20 years. It couldn’t be more obvious.

  20. northstars17 - Dec 1, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    as a lifelong hockey player, who know lives in San Diego, CA…. I am all in favor of taking some of these “sunbelt” teams BACK TO CANADA.

    I was raised in Indiana as a diehard B-Hawks and N-Stars fan (that might sound odd but its true). I have also LIVED in North Carolina and Oklahoma and I can say for 100% sure those ARE hockey states. especially N Carolina. so KEEP the Carolina Hurricanes and the Dallas Stars.

    the teams that need to go are obviously Phoenix, Columbus, and either Florida or Nashville. when I say need to go I mean relocated, preferably in Canada where the sport was built. how can there honestly be only 6 Canadian teams??? I think 2 teams need to go back asap. one to Quebec, and one to Ontario.

    • east96st - Dec 1, 2012 at 4:01 PM

      Well, we should all take a “lifelong hockey player from San Diego” word about what to do with Columbus. I’m sure your perspective from San Diego makes you an authority on Columbus, Ohio. Since I read an article about bird and seal crap is making La Jolla stink, I am in in favor of shutting San Diego down and moving everyone out. Let’s let the bird and seals live in peace. See how incredibly f**king stupid it sounds when you try to discuss something you know nothing about from over 2,000 miles away?

  21. scionofflame - Dec 1, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    As a Nashville fan, I think you can pull my team right off the list. They don’t have attendance problems, though they do still lose some money as other teams do. The fanbase down here is sizeable and damn loyal, and the team has made playoffs the last what…eight years? Not the best record once we’re in, but we do get in, and we’ve started doing better.

    Also, speak for yourselves about the whole contraction thing. A lot of fans don’t want to see their teams move, and you’ll hit a lot of fans hard if you do. It’s never easy, but I think you move the franchises that are overloading their state. I could see the Panthers moving because the Lightning have (generally) been a better team, and seem to be more popular, especially with Stamkos on the rise. Phoenix is…well, a hell of a mess, but still has some solid fans.

    It’s hard to take a team away from the fans, at the end of the day.

  22. id4joey - Dec 1, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    woodstakes, 7 minion for a year could be less depending on HRR. Could also be more if HRR is up. Funny how none of the players gave the money back when HRR was up. they want to restructure Luongo contract so all the money is not paid up front. He still gets the money over the same amount of years. Screw him if he’s willing to lose 7 million this year.

  23. mrchainbluelightning - Dec 1, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    Ohio can and will support hockey, leave the Jackets
    However the is 1 too many teams in Florida, California and Arizona

    Contraction is not the answer, relocation is
    Seattle, Southern Ontario and QC

  24. id4joey - Dec 2, 2012 at 11:20 AM

    woodstakes, manchestermiracle, I get it men. The owner’s desire to restructure back diving contracts is taking back what they agreed to. This has been clear from the get go.. They, as owners, have a right to make this request, and, players have a right not to accept this. But, what choices do players have?

    Luongo has $47,284,000 left to be paid on his contract, and to be paid as shown in the left column, and how he would get paid if they agreed to have their contracts restructured in the right column.
    2012-13 – $6,714,000 – $4,728,400
    2013-14 – $6,714,000 – $4,728,400
    2014-15 – $6,714,000 – $4,728,400
    2015-16 – $6,714,000 – $4,728,400
    2016-17 – $6,714,000 – $4,728,400
    2017-18 – $6,714,000 – $4,728,400
    2018-19 – $3,382,00 – $4,728,400
    2019-20 – $1,618,000 – $4,728,400
    2020-21 – $1,000,000 – $4,728,400
    2021-22 – $1,000,000 – $4,728,400

    The current cap hit for this contract is $5,333,333, and would be $4,728,400 if they can restructure.

    The yearly amount for a restructured contract may differ. The NHL’s proposal indicated that there can be no more than a 5% differential year over year. Is it really in Luongo’s best interest to lose 6.7m this year or lose 2m and make up for the lost over the remaining years of his contract?

    That’s why I keep hoping for the players to see the lesser of 2 evils. Am I that far off? Doesn’t it make more financial sense to take the hit now? Tell you what. If I get 100 thumbs down because of this logic, then I’m out of here.

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